Answers to Questions on Individuals and Organisational Behavior

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Q. a) How do individual differences and environmental factors influence human behavior in an organization? Justify your answer with examples

Every individual is unique and different from the other with respect to needs, experiences ,thinking , beliefs, values etc. they tend to react to different situations in a different way.

Also there are parallel changes in the environment like cultural, political, technological, natural, economic etc. in which an organization operates, thus influencing the behavior of the individual in an organization and thereby the organization as a whole.

When two vital systems viz. people and technology come together ,they form an extremely complex socio-technical system called organization.

John Newstrom and Keith Davis define Organizational Behavior as "the study and application of knowledge about how people -as individuals and as groups-act within organizations."





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No two individuals are same. They are unique. The differences among human beings are due to heredity (nature) and environment (nurture).

The law of individual differences that all individuals are different from each other is even supported by science.

An individual goes through various stages of life, he forms certain values, beliefs ,thought processes and attitudes. These attributes distinguish him from others around in addition to the differences already present among them with respect to biographical attributes like age, gender etc.

Some of the factors which lead to individual differences are:







Individuals are different because these attributes are portrayed by them in a different manner in different situations.

Thus, individual differences lead to different kinds of actions and reactions from the individuals in an organization .It leads to diversity of opinions in an organization and it is more often than not beneficial in decision making and problem-solving because the same problem can be seen in a with umpteen perspectives.

Nonetheless on the hind side such a diversity can also lead to confusion and chaos and affect the company adversely in context of cost and time.


These factors affect not only the individuals and their behavior but also the functioning of an organization as a whole.


Biographical differences:


Employees in an organization differ significantly in age. The CEOs and top management of the company is getting younger and younger.

Some believe that the older workers are more experienced ,possess better judgment and a greater commitment to ethics and work. But simultaneously it is also believed that young people are more dynamic and the knowledge they possess is far more fresh and latest than that possessed by the older employees.

How does environment affect age and thus human behavior?

Technology is ever changing and it is but obvious that a younger employee will be more up to date than the older employees.

Example if a company using Tally 9.0 upgrades to Tally ERP 9, the older employee may take time learn the basics of the software and then up-gradation but surely with some training he will. But on the other hand a younger employee already possessing knowledge of Tally 9 will not take as much time to learn Tally ERP 9.

Economic changes are inevitable. The stock market may go up and down. There may be growth, recession or stability .The reaction to these situations is different by individuals of different age groups.

Example if there is recession in the market the stock prices of the companies, overall will be down. Suppose if a particular company is doing well and has enough funds to invest because of lower stock prices and adequate reserves ,the younger managers may decide to take a risk and buy shares of smaller companies and look for a takeover whereas generally the older managers will be more cautious and may decide to hold back the reserves for emergency.


How does environment affect gender and thus human behavior ?

Human beings are different right from birth. This is because of heredity i.e. nature.

Men and women work together cohesively today in any organization .Yet they are different.

It is seen that women are more prone to stress but have a greater emotional strength than men to persevere in tough times that is why women make great managers too.

Example a male manager may be aggressive when things don't go his way on the other hand a lady manager may be calm or vice-versa.

Traditionally it was believed that human resources is only for women because they understand human relationships better but we today we have male HR leaders like Mr.Atul Sharma Executive Vice-President Bajaj Electricals Ltd. And in case of finance it was believed that it is only a male's domain because of his aggressive attitude. Herein we have the exemplary Ms. Chanda Kochchar Managing Director (MD) of ICICI Bank and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

These individuals have broken rules. Men and women differ in their approach to solving problems due to their heredity but nonetheless this does not question the competence of either.OB serves as a catalyst to fill the void created by these differences by studying individual behavior in depth.

Tenure of an employee in an organization

Often past behavior is a good indicator of the future behavior. And so in case of tenure also an employee's previous job is an indicator of employee's turnover.

How does environment affect tenure of an employee and thus human behavior ?

Socio-cultural factors like morals,value system ,loyalty, level of commitment affect the tenure of an employee in an organization.

Example especially in a country like India tenure of a woman employee may be lower as compared to the male counterpart for reasons of marriage and family commitments thereafter .Also turnover will be higher in case of employees who are more emotionally vulnerable and have a lower job



Physical Ability

How does environment affect tenure of an employee and thus human behavior ?

The physical ability of an individual mainly depends on the heredity of an individual and to a certain extent on his lifestyle and activities like sports, gym etc he undertakes.

Example physical ability of each individual differs i.e. a worker may possess great muscular strength and lift heavy weight whereas others might be weak and incapable.

Intellectual ability

Individuals differ in intellectual ability. The most important tool for measuring it is IQ (Intelligence Quotient) test.

How does environment affect intelligence of an employee and thus human behavior?

Heredity and Socio-cultural factors play an important role in determining intelligence of an individual .Some people may possess a sharp mind right by virtue of birth while rest others may improve the abilities of their mind by learning from their social environment and also from books, training programs etc. Individuals differ in their Intellectual Ability.

Example a co-worker way be more hard working than the other but not intelligent as his co-worker therefore the intelligent one may be able to analyze things faster and more efficiently and get promotion while the other climbs the ladder but slowly.


Values represent basic beliefs that "a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence."

Examples of values are honesty ,equality ,self-respect, freedom etc.

Values are instilled in an individual during his formative years.Thus, values of different people differ because of different upbringing and personal beliefs

How does environment affect values of an employee and thus human behavior?

Values are instilled in an individual during his formative years by his significant others meaning parents ,teachers ,friends etc.Thus ,the socio-cultural environment plays an important role in forming the value system of a person.

Example Geert Hofstede has analysed variations among cultures.He conducted survey among 116000 employees of IBM in 40 countries about their work-related values.He discovered that managers and employees differed on five value dimensions of national culture.These are power distance ,individualism versus collectivism, quantity of life versus quality of life, uncertainty avoidance and long-term versus short-term orientation. Different countries rated differently in each of these in survey conducted by Hofstede for instance Asian countries were more collectivist than individualistic .On the other hand USA ranked highest in individualism.

Thus, values of individuals differ according to their cultures and upbringing and this leads to different decisions based on the value system of managers.


Attitude reflects how one feels about something.

An individual may have different attitude towards different things viz. positive ,neutral and negative.

But job related attitudes refer to job satisfaction, job involvement and organizational commitment.

The degrees of all three differ among different employees.

How does environment affect attitude of an employee and thus human behavior?

Attitudes are a result of the dominant values within us .If a particular thing or issue conforms to our value system we have a positive attitude towards it and vice-versa.

Thus, the socio-cultural environment plays an important role in shaping the attitudes of the employees.

Example if an employee in an organization is very ambitious he would have a positive attitude toward a challenge whereas an employee who is satisfied with his job may have a neutral attitude toward the challenge.Being ambitious is that employee's personal value which was shaped by his socio-cultural environment, which in turn triggered his attitude.


Stephen P. Robbins has defined personality as the sum total of ways in which an individual reacts and interacts with others.

Personality refers to both physical and psychological traits of an individual.

The Big Five Personality Types : Personality dimension is identified in terms of the big five factors. The types of personality are:

Extraversion: Extraversion is how outgoing and social a person is.

Agreeableness:. Agreeableness, when high, indicates that a person is warm, friendly, and tactful. Low agreeableness is demonstrated when employees are cold, abrasive, and unfriendly.

Conscientiousness: Conscientiousness is a person's ability to be dependable, organized, punctual, and to persist in the face of setbacks. Research indicates that conscientiousness is the personality characteristic that is most related to job performance across a variety of jobs.

Emotional stability: Emotional involves a person's ability to remain stable and balanced.

Openness to experience: Openness to experience refers to how open-minded a person is.

How does environment affect personality and thus human behavior?

Nurture and socio-cultural factors and nurture affect the personality of an individual and consequently his behavior at work.

For Example Mr.Ahimanyu sales manager of XYZ Co.Ltd is given huge sales targets by his superior. If Mr. Abhimanyu has faced pressure situations like these in the past the his emotional stability will be high i.e. instead of getting frustrated ,he will find ways to cope up with it. This is because of his experiences i.e. Nurture.

Another Example is that an individual who is brought up in a more open and understanding family will be more open minded and willing to learn rather than someone who comes from an orthodox household .He will be submissive and will not take a risk where organizational decisions are concerned

The significant personality traits that affect OB are locus of control, Machiavellianism, Self-esteem.

Individuals differ in degrees of all three affecting their behavior and performance at work.


Process of perception is a way in which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment.

It is possible that there might be a difference in reality and our perception.

How does environment affect perception and thus human behavior ?

There are a lot of physical factors of the environment which affect perception light, location ,heat etc.

For example if an employee enters an extremely professional office in casual clothes,he will perceived by others as an incompetent and indisciplined person however talented or hardworking he may be.On the other hand if he wears such clothes in an informal environment it will not affect people's perception.

Also various Socio-cultural factors and experiences i.e. nurture designs the perceptions of an individual.

People may also resort to selective perception on basis of their experiences, background and beliefs.

On the basis of perception differences there are often difference of opinion in decisions regarding performance appraisal and job evaluation of the employees.

Thus to conclude, individual differences are caused due to influence of environment on various attributes that constitute the whole individual.

Consequently his behavior at work is impacted. The decisions made by individuals differ in different situations.

Environmental factors like changes in technology, laws of the land, political stability ,activities of competitors affect the organizational policies which reflect the behavior of policy makers toward these changes.

Individual differences lead to conflicts of interest and it is the skill of the managers to let these conflicts be constructive ones and increase organizational effectiveness.

Q .b) A manufacturing company making automotive parts finds that workers working on the assembly line have poor attendance, leave for home early and are generally unproductive. They are fully unionized and resist any attempts by management to discipline them. If you are the HR Manager of such a company, what would you do? Discuss with reference to theories of motivation, leadership, participative management and quality circles. (70)

Case analysis:

This case highlights the undisciplined behavior of the workers a manufacturing company making automotive parts. It mentions about the resultant lack of productivity of the workers and dissatisfaction on the part of management .It obviously is a loss to the company in terms of time and cost in addition to the loss of production. Also there is a big question mark on managerial competence if such issues arise in an organization.

1 .As an HR manager my objective is to:

Improve productivity so as to save the company financial and times losses.

Seek a win-win solution for both management and workers by addressing issues of both.

2. Problems faced by the company:

Employee absenteeism.

Not completing official working hours

Lack of discipline.

Excessive unity among the employees harming the interest of the organization.

Unproductive employees.

3. The main reason for the unacceptable behavior by the employees at work is lack of interest which can emanate due to plethora of reasons like:

Poor working conditions.

Lack of co-operation from the management.

Poor employee grievance resolution mechanism.

Conflict of interest between management and employees.

Poor wages.

Unfair treatment of employees.

Lack of job satisfaction.

Deliberate disrespect towards the organization and towards work.

Lack of ethics.

Lower levels of commitment.

Lack of ambition.

Lack of initiative.

Lack of sense of duty.


As the HR manager of the company, this problem of indiscipline among the workers and resultant lack of productivity needs to be addressed with utmost diligence with regards to the following:



Participative management.

Quality circles.

Firstly it is essential to know what is the reason behind the workers' irrational behavior and then direct efforts towards resolution of the issue.


According to Baron and Greenberg motivation "is the set of processes that arouse, direct and maintain human behavior towards attaining some goal."

Needs and drives



Goals and incentives








Thus before applying the theories of motivation , I being the HR manager of the company would undertake the following in order to decide motivation theory applicable according to the above motivation model by Newstrom and Davis:

Indentify any unfulfilled need or drive of the workers .For example need for better wages.

Since the unsatisfied need would lead to tension among the workers, I would firstly address to the tension created among them.

Identify what efforts the employees are willing to make to reduce the tension .These efforts are influenced by his perception of opportunities and rewards available. Since in this case the employees are not motivated herein the process of identifying and implementing the motivation factors will the efforts can be recognized by providing monetary and non-monetary incentives like bonus ,awards etc.

Efforts in turn lead to performance.

I as the HR manager of the company apply the Victor Vroom's Expectancy theory of motivation.

Victor Vroom's Expectancy Theory

The strength of a tendency to act in a certain way depends on the strength of an expectation that the act will be followed by a given outcome and on attractiveness of that outcome to the individual.

In more practical terms, expectancy theory says that employees will be motivated to exert a high level of effort when they believe that effort will lead to good performance appraisal, that a good appraisal will lead to organizational rewards like bonus or salary hike and these rewards will satisfy personal goals of an employee.

Personal goals

Organizational rewards

Individual effort

Individual Performance

1 2 3

1. Effort-performance Relationship

2. Performance-reward Relationship

3. Rewards-personal goals Relationship

Force= Valence x Expectancy

Where Valence is the strength of an individual's preference for an outcome. Expectancy is the probability that a particular action will lead to a desired outcome.

Thus as the HR manager, I would first try to understand the individual goals of the workers ,for example whether it is a better salary or recognition or simply job satisfaction.

I would also go a step further to determine what are the expectations of the workers with the amount of effort they are making.

Since they are not working seriously perhaps there is no match between the workers' personal goals and organizational goals.

I would also talk to the management and raise the concerns of the workers and accommodate the interest of the workers wherever possible without compromising organizational providing better salaries, training programs without exceeding costs.

Effort-performance Relationship: probability perceived by the individual that exerting a given amount of effort will lead to performance.

In this case if the workers have a negative perception that maximum effort will not be recognized in the performance appraisal I will assure them on behalf of the management that it surely will and no partiality will be done.

Performance-reward Relationship: degree to which an individual believes that a particular performance will lead to a desired outcome.

I would further assure the workers that they will get their reward like recognition, bonus, salary hike, promotion fairly on the basis of performance appraisal and not merely on the basis of seniority.

This will motivate them to make best possible efforts to seek an optimum performance appraisal and finally to seek optimum rewards.

Rewards-personal goals Relationship: the degree to which organizational rewards satisfy an individual's personal goals or needs.

Most of the times the organizational rewards don't match the expectation of the worker. Perhaps in this case the rewards given to the employees are not considered attractive by the employees as a whole , that is why they are unanimously resorting to an undisciplined behavior.

Perhaps the workers were expecting a better salary but weren't given or an impending bonus was replaced by a few words of praise and thus the employees started irregular work.

Thus as the HR manager I would try to bring personal goals of the workers in line with the organizational goals.

Thus the workers will be provided with the incentives and better working conditions or deserved promotions within the framework of organizational goals i.e. if a worker wants to be promoted to factory in a metro city but he is required at a little underdeveloped city ,he can be transferred there with better salary ,more medical facilities ,accommodation and safety.

The Expectancy theory is beneficial because it will lead to a reasonable integration of the organizational goals with the individual goals of the employees without jeopardizing the interest of the other and produce optimum results.


According to Baron and Greenberg, leadership is the process whereby one individual influences other group members towards the attainment of defined group or organizational goals.

As the HR manager of the company I would apply The Path -Goal leadership theory in this case.

This model was first presented by Martin Evans but was developed further by Robert House and others.

According to the Path -goal model , the main function of a leader is to show the sub-ordinates the path to successful performance and then reward them for it.

The leader's main functions are:

Goal Setting: It is establishment of long term and short term goals and directing the workers towards their attainment .Basically giving them a sense of direction towards a common objective.

Path improvement: Besides setting the goals other function of the leader is to improve the path to the goal. Leaders can provide support for attainment of the goals by providing task support by getting together budgets ,resources, power etc .and psychological support by being friendly ,appreciative easily approachable.

The path-goal leadership model suggests that the leaders can adopt any of four leadership styles:




Achievement oriented.

In this case leadership will be applied from two ends .

1. from the management's angle.

2. by the union leader to the workers.

I would recommend Supportive leadership style from the management's side.

The management would set the goals for the workers in respect to the units to be produced.(GOAL SETTING),and provide them with all technical support,budgets and all required resources to achieve those goals.As also the management can provide psychological support i.e. by employee counseling and setting up Ombudsman.(PATH IMPROVEMENT).

From the union leader's side it can be both directive and participative. The workers are unionized ,thus the workers will adhere to the directives of the union leader ,on the other hand the union leader can take the opinions of the employees in the decision -making process regarding the workforce in his power or putting forth the demands in front of the management.

The union leader will participate is the decision making process because the policies of the company will thus incorporate the concerns of the workers and for the management also it is beneficial because the employees then will not be able to question the management unnecessarily as their views would be involved in the organization's working.

The workers on the other hand will also be motivated because they will feel important and will gain a feeling of belonging towards the organization rather than having an impersonal view.

This will be beneficial in achieving the goal.


Under participative management the subordinates share a significant degree of decision-making power with their immediate superiors.

It is instrumental in addressing issues of a poor morale and low productivity.

It fosters a strong sense of cooperation among the workforce since there is a sense of belongingness.

Participative management also leads to better decision-making since the workers are mostly more informed about their work and the needs of the peers and that of the organization.

Joint decision-making motivates the employees and creates a sense of commitment in them.

Thus , here the morale and productivity issues of the workers can be addressed by participative management by involving them in significant decision-making processes especially pertaining to them.

There is a lot of unity among the workers. This can be used as an added advantage. It may not be practically feasible for all the workers to be a part of decision-making but their representative i.e. the union leader can be consulted while making decisions if and only if time permits.

The union leader before giving his inputs can in turn talk to the workers and their views and wants can be incorporated while making significant policy decisions by the management or even in day to day decisions

Most significantly, the workers will be involved in the decision-making process only if it is viable to the company in terms of cost and time both. Because in an attempt to improve the quality of decision-making or satisfying the employees and creating a cohesive atmosphere the profitability of the company should not suffer because ultimately the management is accountable to the shareholders for its decisions.

The concept of participative management is applied in the above case because when the workers are given certain importance and autonomy to express their opinions their confidence and self-esteem will be boasted. This will lead to a positive atmosphere in the organization leading to better results and better interpersonal relations.


Quality circles were originated in Japan in 1962, created by Kaoru Ishikawa.

The first circles were established at the Nippon Wireless and Telegraph Company but then spread to more than 35 other companies in the first year.

Quality Circle is a small group of 6 to 12 employees doing similar work who voluntarily meet together on a regular basis to identify improvements in their respective work areas using proven techniques for analyzing and solving work related problems coming in the way of achieving and sustaining excellence leading to mutual up liftment of employees as well as the organization. It is "a way of capturing the creative and innovative power that lies within the work force".

In the above case, I as the HR manager would use quality circles as a tool to encourage employee role and interest in managerial decision-making .I would encourage the workers to meet in a group of 6 to 12 to discuss their work related problems at least once a week and come up with solutions. Though the final decision of acceptance, modification of the solution is in the hands of the management the management gets the first hand information regarding the problems of the workers.

Quality circles will act as a tool for:

Human resource development.

Increase workers' participation in the organization.

Aid in problem-solving.

Quality circles thus become important to this situation because the concern for quality is the biggest issue in any automobile company. Therefore in the above case quality circles will facilitate better quality of products due to specialization and human resource development.